SporkBot wrote:This gets me thinking...does this make Vibe and Katana "toxic" characters? As well as Mr. Terrific, Static, and other books that've been cancelled since the New52 started
The question is toxic to whom
And I think there are multiple answers.
To the DC front office, yes. DC blames the characters for a failure like this. And that is not new. It's happened for decades. It's never the fault of the lousy creators, always the fault of the characters. A character's book bombing can lead to the character being shelved for years, killed off, or fundamentally transformed, because, again, it must have been something about the character -- about Katana or Vibe -- that caused the failure. Not the fact that Ann Nocenti did a lousy job writing, etc. For example, with Katana, how much do you want to bet the post-mortem on this will be that Katana wasn't sexy enough and didn't show enough skin? That if she'd been more like Starfire, half-naked and jumping into bed with a different hero every issue, the book would have sold more? Thus, it is "Katana's fault" for not being sexy enough. This will at least make Katana, as presently incarnated, "toxic" enough not to warrant her own book for probably years. And it may lead to either her complete shelving as a character, or even a transformation of her into a more "attractive" version.
To the creators... yes and no. I think some creators may become gun shy of these characters. "Look what happened to Ann Nocenti when she tried to give this character a chance. I don't want it to happen to me." On the other hand, some creators do see this as a challenge. In the 1990s, the Matrix Supergirl character was not just toxic but radioactive. It was used badly by the creators, turned into a willing pawn of Lex Luthor, basically an unwitting supervillain, etc. It was viewed as an impostor unworthy to wear the "S" shield by the vast majority of Supergirl fans. They tried a mini-series to fix it, and it only made things worse (and bombed). by 1995 most people would say there was no chance this character would get an ongoing solo book, and a bunch of us were laying odds that it was only a matter of time before it was killed off. Then Peter David jumped from Marvel to DC and he asked to be given a shot at making Supergirl work. The result was an 80-issue run that stands as a testament to David's writing genius... and it was quite popular for years. So whereas most other writers wouldn't touch Matrix Supergirl by 1996, Peter David went out of his way to write her.
To the casual fans... probably yes. Anyone who was not a Katana fan and read this book would probably never pick up another book about Katana again, and one would not really blame them, having been burned like this. Their only exposure to the character is this dreck? Why would they ever be interested in her again?
To fans of the character... no, never. I've loved Supergirl since I was a kid. For 30 years she's been my favorite character in comics. I might hate what DC is doing to the current version of her (in fact I often do), but that doesn't change how much I like the base character. So if they cancel New 52 Supergirl, at this point it's so bad I won't do more than shrug (and in a way it might be a relief), but when Supergirl vol. 7 is tried some day down the line, I'll get it. Because it's Supergirl. A hardcore Katana or Vibe fan would feel the same way. In fact although I am not a hardcore Katana fan, I do like her a lot (I love martial arts characters), so I would willingly try another Katana series. Unless Ann Nocenti writes it.
For me, the toxicity doesn't revolve around the character but around the creative team. Ann Nocenti turned in this sewage? Well, I will think twice before reading something written by her again. In fact, a performance not much worse than this will often get a writer permanently banned from my collecting hobby -- such that, barring some very strong mitigating circumstance, I simply will not buy anything with their name on it. Currently sharing space on that list are such paragons of creative genius as Scott Lobdell, Brian Micahel Bendis, Grant Morrison, and after Trinity War/Forever evil, Geoff Johns. To me, it's those guys who are toxic, because their stupidity ruins stories, series, and whole character teams... not the characters themselves.